Technology, Disabilities and Fun

Some individuals are born with disabilities and others become disabled throughout their lifetime due to injury or disease. Some disabilities happen quickly and others take time to progress. Regardless of when you become disabled or how you become disabled, you are going to do things differently then a person who doesn’t have a disability.

Technology makes things easier, more convenient and more fun for people without disabilities. For people with disabilities, it makes things possible. I am writing this using computerized voice activated technology, a.k.a. Siri. Without Siri, (or something like her), a person who does not have enough hand function to type would have a tough time using a keyboard.

Ten years ago, I wrote a book. It was a memoir, consisting of a hundred and twenty pages and it took me an entire year to write it. Not because it required extensive amount of research, not because I went through months of writers block. I wrote almost every single day, but the voice activated technology was so poor, I could type faster by using a “typing peg.”

A typing peg acts as one plastic finger strapped to your hand and your arm does the work. Since, at the time, my right arm wasn’t strong enough to type, I wrote my entire book using one finger. If my way of typing was faster than the best voice activated software available at the time, you can imagine how well the software worked.

Today, I am able to write as fast as if I could type about forty words a minute, including corrections, because of the advances in voice technology. I can also dial my phone, use my computer and my television through the magic of voice technology. And now there is the Google Glass.

Google glass is a wearable, not intrusive gadget that doesn’t get in the way of daily life. Its a stylish pair of glasses packed with Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, GPS, speakers, a camera, microphone, touchpad, and a gyroscope that detects head tilts. Sounds fun for anybody, right?! But imagine for a moment what this could do for someone who is paralyzed??!!

Life pauses for no one. My disability involves paralysis. When the moment moves me, I cannot grab my cell phone and snap a picture of a moment I want to remember. I have to have somebody do it for me, and many times, the moment is lost. With Google Glass, all I have to do is say “take a photo,” and my memory is captured. I would no longer miss out on the faces and places I want to obtain in a picture.

Video works much the same. I’ll be using Google Hangout for group conferences in my new business, and I could do them right from Google Glass. I could also dictate text messages, text videos and pictures, never get lost again and learn about my surroundings (in real time if I choose ) while I travel. Google Glass simply requires a Wi-Fi or mobile connection to activate its features, and works with both Android phones and iPhones.

The first Google Glass prototype weighed over eight pounds. Now, its new style choices are feather light and receive nods from the fashion industry, Pretty and practical is a fabulous combination.

The technological world has developed countless products that would not only make more things possible for a person with a disability to experience, but also more things FUN. I feel society forgets at times that people with disabilities just wanna have fun, too… Regardless of the challenges they may experience. All the more reason to, actually.

While I consider myself pretty mobile, my power chair does have its limits; it’s only made to travel on basically smooth surfaces. Enter the Action Track Chair. It can go through snow, mud and wooded areas. How fabulous it would be to have my Google Glass on, using my track chair, as I went cavorting around my five acres (or anywhere else I desired that wasn’t flat) , taking pictures as I wished, maybe looking up a certain type of tree I didn’t recognize. Sounds like Heaven.

There is one problem. In the world of disabilities, Heaven cost money. Actually, any item with a disability label on it has a huge price tag, and most folks with disabilities I know are spending their money on urological supplies, home health aides, prescriptions, medical bills and equipment.

There are so many nonprofit organizations offering amazing, generous support for people with disabilities who need financial assistance. There should be a “Fun Foundation” or something of the sort, its sole mission being assisting disabled individuals in getting recreational “gadgets”, both big and small, to have in their homes so they can experience fun when ever they wish.

Nobody’s life, disabled or able bodied, should just consist of the daily necessities. You deserve to have some fun.


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